White separatist leader Dwight McCarthy had barely announced his plans to open a reading room and church next week in Salt Lake City when anti-racism groups began planning to protest those moves.
"We will protest, but I'm not sure exactly when or how," said Jo Roache, spokesman for Utahns Against the Aryan Nations. "This guy is an avowed racist and separatist. It may be his right to open a bookstore, but we have a right to make a lot of noise about it - and we will."McCarthy, who hosted the "Aryan Nations Hour" radio show last year and was Utah head of the Aryan Nations Church, said Monday he plans to open a reading room and chapel for his new The Church of Christian Israel on Aug. 29. The location is 1348 E. 33rd South, suite 201, in Salt Lake City.
McCarthy also said he believes the new center will be less controversial than his radio show last year - which was forced off the air after two weeks because of complaints from the same groups organizing protests now.
The difference between now and then, McCarthy said, is that he's no longer affiliated with the Aryan Nations, which he said was more neo-Nazi than religious.
Still, the religion he preaches maintains that whites are the chosen people of God.
"You can put a label of religion on anything, but that does not mean that it is not still evil," said Nonie Gilbert, spokeswoman for aryanWatch, an anti-racial group based in Weber and Davis counties.
"Just saying he is more religious now doesn't make his views any better. We will put some kind of protest together. You can be sure of that," she said.
Zeric Smith, co-chairman of the Salt Lake-based Western Foundation for Racial Equality, said, "Racial intolerance is evil no matter what you call it. There will definitely be a protest. We're are trying to get hold of our people to organize it now."
"We are against anything that deteriorates racial equality. We will do everything we can legally to try to put a stop to the activities of this pseudo-religion," he said.
Steve Warshall, who has helped organized civil rights protests for the Socialist Workers Party, said, "McCarthy has been a local right-wing activist for years, and I doubt we could ever drive him out. But we will counter any political activity that moves against civil rights, or the rights of labor unions and women."
Would protests actually draw more publicity to McCarthy's activities, and possibly help his church?
Smith said, "People in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (home of the Aryan Nations) told us their experience is that silence in the face of racism means to racists that people are willing to put up with them. In Coeur d'Alene, they ignored racists in 1979 and by 1983 they were bombing people's houses. We don't want that to happen here."
He added, "We respect his (McCarthy's) right to speak and his right to worship, but we will work toward everyone else's right to be free from racism."
Roache was a bit more adamant. "This man's just hiding behind religion. . . . For Utahns and Americans there's no room for people like this who are un-American. He's so un-American that it makes me sick."